The first cinema robot ever depicted was in the 1927 urban-dystopia picture, Metropolis. Maschinenmensch (the human machine, in German), or Futura, as she was named in the original novel, was a beauty. Masked in a moulded, full-body plaster and wood shell—polished to a high sheen with bronzed silver powder—actress Brigitte Helm, with her steely eyes, expressed a blank lunacy, while her sexy chromatic curves shocked and awed the art deco set into a modern, new era.
Silver makeup has been awakening eyes and imaginations ever since. With its attention-getting knack for instantly conveying celebration, everyone from Debbie Harry to go-go ravers to NYE revellers have at one point dabbled in the dust—not always to great effect. “Dated,” “cheap,” “disco ball” eyelids have left many a makeup sophisticate ice-cold.
Which is why the fall couture shows seemed to signal a pivotal moment in platinum, elevating it from tacky to elegant in one broad sweep of a M.A.C makeup wand. Giambattista Valli, Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani Privé all paired their exquisite and expensive garments with glitzy alloy. At Chanel, models wore a blue-ish silver across the crease and along the lower lash line, rimmed with black kohl. The unfussy hair and winter-pink lips that matched Parisian-girl, metallic-threaded jackets made it spot-on.
It’s a new, romantic silver, a trend Chanel carried through to its spring ready-to-wear. Eyelids were glazed all the way up to the brow in creamy platinum, lined with a black upward cat-eye flick above and below. Loose, low chignons were wrapped with single-pearl elastics for the final, feminine touch. Chanel’s Illusion d’Ombre Long-Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in Épatant, $37, is sheer yet buildable, so you can adjust the intensity to suit your outfit or mood. The future—and your previously dreary visage—is wide open.
FLARE picks: Nars Andy Warhol Collection Soft Touch Eye Shadow Pencil in Silver Factory, $28. M.A.C Pressed Pigment Eye Shadow in Blue Willow, $25. Chanel Ombré Essentielle Soft-Touch Eyeshadow in Furtif, $24.
The New Rules of Metallica
1. Balance shine. “Modern is not looking too made up,” says makeup artist David Allan Jones. One way is to ensure foundation is matte but not heavy.
2. Apply with care. Light-reflecting shimmers bring out eyelids, brow bones and the cupid’s bow, says Jones. “It has the optical effect of making features seem closer and fuller.” But beware not to highlight fine lines and dry skin.
3. Book playtime. Don’t experiment right before a New Year’s Eve party, and take a quick iphone snap with flash to test your work. “You will know immediately if it’s flattering,” says Jones.